Congratulations to HLI Principal Investigator Dr. John Boyd for winning the 2017 Providence Health Care Research Institute Innovative and Translational Research Award. This award supports clinical research projects to improve patient care. The award will fund Dr. Boyd’s project, Ex vivo Heart Perfusion: Doubling the Number of Heart Transplants performed in British Columbia.
Many patients with end-stage heart failure die due to a shortage of donor hearts for transplantation. Indeed, the biggest problem in heart transplantation is the shortage of donor hearts. In order to boost the number of hearts available for transplantation, researchers have been investigating alternative pathways for heart donation. Whereas heart transplants typically utilize brain-dead organ donors, it is also feasible to utilize the organs from donors who have died from circulatory arrest—referred to as donation after circulatory death (DCD). The biggest problem with DCD hearts is that they are injured as a result of the donation process because the heart is much more sensitive to injury than other organs. The ability to study the function of DCD hearts after they are obtained, and to determine their degree of injury before placing the heart into a recipient, would greatly increase the safety of DCD heart transplantation and boost the number of heart transplants performed. With this award, Dr. Boyd and his team will study human DCD hearts using a machine, in order to find ways of identifying when a heart is too injured, and therefore too unsafe to use for a recipient. This will allow surgeons to make decisions about a heart’s suitability before committing a recipient to a heart with an uncertain outcome. This information will result in the creation of tools to predict the safety of DCD hearts and hopefully the ability to start using them for actual transplantation.
This is the third year in a row that an HLI Principal Investigator has won an Innovation and translational Research Award from the PHCRI. In 2015, Dr. Pat camp won the inaugural PHCRI Innovation and Translational Research Award for her knowledge translation study aiming to use exercise and increased activity to improve health outcomes for patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In 2016, Dr. Liam Brunham won the PHCRI and VCHRI Innovation and Translational Research Award for his study aiming to use targeted next generation sequencing to improve diagnosis and treatment of patients with familial hypercholesterolemia in British Columbia.